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Netflix‘s Password Sharing Crackdown: What Every Streamer Needs to Know

If you‘re one of the many people who‘ve been freely piggybacking on someone else‘s Netflix account, the party is officially over. Netflix just tightened the clamps on account sharing, and a lot of streamers are about to feel the pinch.

As your resident streaming expert, let me walk you through everything that‘s changing, why Netflix is finally cracking down, and most importantly, what it means for your budget and viewing habits. I‘ll also share some tips to keep your own account secure during this time of transition.

Why Netflix Allowed Sharing for So Long

Before we get into the new rules, it helps to understand why Netflix allowed open password sharing for over a decade since launching its streaming service in 2007.

Originally, CEO Reed Hastings had a loose attitude about credential sharing, saying Netflix had to "learn to live with it." At the time, his priority was growing the platform‘s audience, and free sharing helped get people hooked on Netflix‘s exclusive content.

According to Magid research, 35% of Netflix users share their passwords with people outside their household. That‘s a massive amount of people accessing accounts they don‘t pay for!

Netflix turned a blind eye because shared accounts acted like free viral marketing. But as competition heated up from Disney+, HBO Max, and others, Netflix couldn‘t afford to keep giving away freebies.

The Official Policy: No More Sharing Outside Your Household

In a letter to shareholders in early 2022, Netflix signaled it could no longer ignore lost revenue from password sharing. After testing solutions in Latin America, Netflix rolled out a new policy worldwide on February 2, 2023.

  • Netflix‘s new rules strictly limit account access to one household only.

  • You can still watch Netflix on your personal devices while traveling. But the days of freely sharing credentials with family and friends elsewhere are over.

  • Netflix will use technology like IP addresses, device IDs, and account activity to pinpoint suspicious logins outside the home.

According to Netflix, this will help ensure "the people using Netflix accounts are authorized to do so." But many free riders are frustrated by the crackdown.

Early Reactions from Unhappy Streamers

Since Netflix began tightening password sharing rules in Latin America last year, there‘s been significant user backlash:

  • In 2022, Netflix lost 200,000 subscribers in Chile, Peru, and Costa Rica after introducing restrictions.

  • When the policy rolled out in Spain in early 2023, Netflix‘s subscriber base dropped by 1 million users that quarter.

  • On social media, you‘ll find comments like "Netflix just keeps finding ways to lose customers" and "Between price hikes and the password crackdown, I‘m considering cancelling."

  • 61% of millennials say they‘d consider canceling Netflix if they could no longer use someone else‘s account for free.

Clearly, many Netflix users are upset about suddenly losing access to accounts they‘ve relied on. Some may go as far as to drop Netflix or downgrade to a cheaper streaming service.

Netflix‘s New Paid Account Sharing Options

For existing sharers, Netflix is offering two ways to pay up:

  1. Transfer your profile to a new membership – Netflix will move your watch history and recommendations to a paid account registered to you.

  2. Add an Extra Member for $7.99/month – This lets you keep accessing someone else‘s main account by adding you as a paid "sub-account."

But neither of these options is very compelling for freeloaders now facing new fees. $7.99 a month is quite high for limited access privileges.

Some analysts think Netflix is shooting itself in the foot here. "Netflix risks alienating customers with these frustrating account sharing rules," says Frost & Sullivan‘s Dan Rayburn. "Many may cancel their subscriptions entirely."

What Should You Do If You‘ve Been Sharing an Account?

Here are my tips if you‘ve been relying on someone else‘s Netflix account:

  • Politely offer to contribute money to the account owner if you‘ve been freeloading. Doing this before being cut off softens the blow.

  • If you watch enough Netflix to justify the cost, get your own account and transfer your profile if possible.

  • Consider downgrading to a cheaper streaming service like Peacock, Tubi, or Apple TV+. You can get loads of free streaming content without paying the Netflix premium.

  • Use the Netflix app while signed in, then go offline before the session expires. This lets you temporarily cache content without an active login.

  • Invest in your own streaming device and subscription; it ends up being just ~$10-15/month for endless entertainment.

  • Use free Netflix alternatives like Hoopla or Kanopy through your local library. They offer full access with just a library card.

Stay tuned here as I‘ll be monitoring how Netflix‘s policy impacts subscriptions and whether other streaming platforms start their own password sharing crackdowns.

Steps to Lock Down Your Netflix Account Security

While Netflix targets credential sharing, it‘s also an opportunity to lock down your own account security:

  • Change your password regularly and make it unique. Avoid reusing passwords across sites.

  • Remove old devices you aren‘t actively using anymore to prevent unauthorized logins.

  • Monitor devices currently enabled for your account and remove any you don‘t recognize.

  • Turn on login approvals via email or text so new devices require confirmation.

  • Check your account activity for any profiles or watching that seems unusual.

  • Adjust parental controls if you have kids using your Netflix profile.

  • Contact Netflix if you notice suspicious account activity that indicates credential theft.

Following best practices like using strong unique passwords and enabling two-factor authentication goes a long way in protecting your accounts.

By taking a few minutes to secure your Netflix profile, you can make sure only approved users in your household can access it. Let me know in the comments if you have any other account security questions!

Stay tuned here as I continue to cover the evolving landscape of password sharing and account security in the streaming industry. Feel free to reach out with any questions!


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StreamrGo is always about privacy, specifically protecting your privacy online by increasing security and better standard privacy practices.